National Wetland Plant List (NWPL) Update: On April 8, 2014, the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers announced the 2014 annual update to the National Wetland Plant List (NWPL). For additional information on the 2014 update to the NWPL, click here or visit the NWPL website.
The 2014 update mostly represents the reporting of new range extensions of 754 existing species to new regions in the Corps regional supplement regions. In addition, 120 new species were added, the majority of which are FACU rated species. The taxonomy and nomenclature of the 2014 update did not change from 2013 and follows the Biota of North America (BONAP). Eleven species were also reviewed through the challenge study process. One notable change is the Japanese Honeysuckle which the National Panel requested a re-evaluation of in the Atlantic and Coastal Plains region. The 2013 rating of FAC has now been changed to FACU in 2014. A summary of the changes can be found on the NWPL website.
We don't anticipate that these updates will have any effect on delineation results performed using either list (i.e., the 2012, 2013 or the 2014 updated list). A comprehensive list of all revisions is available on the NWPL website. The 2014 update increased the total number of plants from 7937 to 8057 and reflects a less than one percent change in the number of species and indicator statuses. Please look for the updated 2014 NWPL list under the "Download Plant List" section on the left hand side of the webpage.
The effective date for the 2014 NWPL is set for May 1, 2014.
Agriculture's Exemptions and Exclusions from Clean Water Act Expanded by Proposal:
On March 25, 2014, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Army Corps) jointly released a proposed rule to clarify protection under the Clean Water Act for streams and wetlands that form the foundation of the nation's water resources. The proposed rule will benefit businesses by increasing efficiency in determining coverage of the Clean Water Act. The agencies are launching a robust outreach effort over the next 90 days, holding discussions around the country and gathering input needed to shape a final rule.
Additionally, EPA and the Army Corps have coordinated with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to develop an interpretive rule to ensure that 53 specific conservation practices that protect or improve water quality will not be subject to Section 404 dredged or fill permitting requirements. The agencies will work together to implement these new exemptions and periodically review, and update USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service conservation practice standards and activities that would qualify under the exemption. Any agriculture activity that does not result in the discharge of a pollutant to waters of the U.S. still does not require a permit.
Enforcement Action: On November 22, 2011, the USEPA signed a final consent agreement and order with 3-D Development, LLC assessing a Class I civil penalty of $6,750.00 under Section 404 of the Clean Water Act (CWA) for unauthorized work on a subdivision in College Station, Texas. The work was discovered by the Regulatory Branch and referred to USEPA as a knowing and willful violation. Concurrent processing of an after-the-fact permit was authorized by the USEPA and the Regulatory Branch authorized the project on August 19, 2011.